Benedictine School’s ministry expands into flour and flowers


For The Dialog

 DENTON, Md. – Sweetly Made Bakery offers more than pastries, cakes, cookies and cupcakes to people in Caroline County.

“We’re the showcase for Benedictine Adult Services,” said Kathleen Bartlett, bakery manager.

The bakery also offers custom cakes for special occasions; handmade candy-grams and special occasion greeting cards. There’s also a gift shop featuring t-shirts, jewelry, homemade dog biscuits, and other items made by Benedictine Adult Services.

While shopping for baked goods and gifts, customers can also special order flower arrangements and plants from B Blossoms Garden Center on the campus of the Benedictine School.

The bakery is just a piece of the mission of the Benedictine School, said Candy Chandler, day activity coordinator. “Most people think it’s just a school for children. Sweetly Made was an idea to bring it out to the community, so they can know what we do.”

The interaction between customers and the 14 adults with disabilities, who work at the bakery, provides part of that knowledge.

Kathleen Bartlett, manager of Sweetly Made Bakery in Denton, Md., pulls cookies from the display case. (Gary Morton for The Dialog)

The mission of the Benedictine School, which includes the adult services, is “helping children and adults with developmental disabilities achieve their greatest potential” through the dignity of work, compassionate care and hospitality.

April Stayon, a bakery job coach who oversees production of the candy grams and special occasion cards, believes that interaction is one reason why the bakery enjoys many repeat customers.

“You walk in every day and they greet you like you’re their best friend and they haven’t seen you in a year. You feel their love.”

It wasn’t always that way, Bartlett said. Many of the bakery workers were shy at first but soon warmed to the idea of greeting customers.

“They love people; they love talking to people,” she said. “They’re always so happy. You can’t find a happier place to work.”

Customers appear to like both the customer service and the baked goods and other items, according to reviews on the bakery’s Facebook page.

“They have the most incredible baked goods first and foremost!” wrote Josh Stone. “The staff is the friendliest you’ll ever meet.”

“Just had a shower cake from there. It was beautiful, tasted amazing and very affordable!!! Best kept secret in Denton!” added Cathy Bowen Carter.

Sweetly Made Bakery opened in December 2012 in a house on Market Street in downtown Denton. It features bakery staples such as donuts, cookies and cakes; breads are available usually on special order. Chocolate-covered strawberries, offered in season and on special occasions, were a popular seller at Valentine’s Day, Bartlett said.

“We’re always doing new recipes, trying new things,” she said. Peanut butter cookie bars were added April 30. “They always sell out.”

The smaller baked goods are cooked in a commercial oven at the bakery, but for larger orders the baking is done at the Benedictine School kitchen near Ridgely, about 10 miles away.

Plans call for some bakery items to become available soon at B Blossoms Garden Center on the Benedictine School campus.

“We’re definitely cross-promoting,” said Casey Townsend, manager of the garden center which opened in January. The center offers indoor and outdoor plants from heirloom seeds (natural seeds, as opposed to genetically modified), floral arrangements, helium balloons, and other goods made by Benedictine Adult Services.

By July the center plans to sell produce from plants started in its greenhouses and transplanted into gardens on the campus, Townsend said. Plans call for wheelchair-accessible gardens to accommodate all resident participants.

Benedictine Adult Services also offers a mowing, mulching, trimming and weeding service called Busy Bees.

Almost 60 people work in the garden center, about two-thirds from adult services and one-third from the school.

Like the bakery, one of B Blossoms’ goals is to develop community interest in the Benedictine School and Adult Services, while providing vocational training and therapeutic services to residents.

“Gardening is considered therapeutic,” Townsend said. “Of course, we’re doing it as a business,” she said. “The goal is to become self-supporting.”


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Sweetly Made Bakery

323 Market St.

Denton, Md.

443-448 4663

Hours: 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday; closed Saturday-Sunday


B Blossoms

Garden Center

14299 Benedictine Lane

Ridgely, Md.

410 364 9650

Email: bblossoms@    

Hours: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; closed Saturday-Sunday